Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #328 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 133 and 134 today and our focus The Blessing of Unity + Should We worship with our hands raised? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ogun, Nigeria, Kampala, Uganda, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweetwater, Texas, Cleveland, Ohio, Dallas, Texas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Honolulu, Hawaii, San Diego, California, Bakersfield, California, Anchorage, Alaska, West Palm Beach, Florida, Miami, Florida and Juneau, Alaska. Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Two very, very short chapters today. Both are short songs of ascent – meant to be sung together on the way to worship.Let’s go ahead and read Psalm 133 and then discuss it.
I find that western metaphors in the 21st century are quite radically different from Hebrew metaphors from thousands of years ago. Take, for instance, the very romantic and steamy poetry of Song of Songs 7:
Your neck is like a tower of ivory,
your eyes like pools in Heshbon
by Bath-rabbim’s gate.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel,
the hair of your head like purple cloth—Song of Songs 7:4-5
Maybe it’s just that I’m not much of a poet, but I doubt my wife would delight in me telling her that her nose is like the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus. Maybe I’ll give it a shot, and then report back. The metaphors of Psalm 133 are similarly odd, but still easily understandable. Brothers living together in unity is delightfully good, much like:
It is like fine oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down Aaron’s beard
onto his robes. Psalm 133:2
That is an…odd…way of putting things, but Charles Spurgeon helps us to clearly understand what the Psalmist is saying:
In order that we may the better behold brotherly unity David gives us a resemblance, so that as in a glass we may perceive its blessedness. It has a sweet perfume about it, comparable to that precious ointment with which the first High Priest was anointed at his ordination. It is a holy thing, and so again is like the oil of consecration which was to be used only in the Lord’s service. What a sacred thing must brotherly love be when it can be likened to an oil which must never be poured on any man but on the Lord’s high-priest alone! It is a diffusive thing: being poured on his head the fragrant oil flowed down upon Aaron’s head, and thence dropped upon his garments till the utmost hem was anointed therewith; and even so doth brotherly love extend its benign power and bless all who are beneath its influence. Hearty concord brings a benediction upon all concerned; its goodness and pleasure are shared in by the lowliest members of the household; even the servants are the better and the happier because of the lovely unity among the members of the family. It has a special use about it; for as by the anointing oil Aaron was set apart for the special service of Jehovah, even so those who dwell in love are the better fitted to glorify God in his church. The Lord is not likely to use for his glory those who are devoid of love; they lack the anointing needful to make them priests unto the lord. “That ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard.” This is a chief point of comparison, that as the oil did not remain confined to the place where it first fell, but flowed down the High Priest’s hair and bedewed his beard, even so brotherly love descending from the head distils and descends, anointing as it runs, and perfuming all it lights upon. …Christian affection knows no limits of parish, nation, sect or age. Is the man a believer in Christ? Then he is in the one body, and I must yield him an abiding love. Is he one of the poorest, one of the least spiritual, one of the least lovable? Then he is as the skirts of the garment, and my heart’s love must fall even upon him. Brotherly love comes from the head, but falls to the feet. Its way is downward. It “ran down,” and it “went down”: love for the brethren condescends to men of low estate, it is not puffed up, but is lowly and meek. This is no small part of its excellence: oil would not anoint if it did not flow down, neither would brotherly love diffuse its blessing if it did not descend.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 120-150, vol. 6 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 168.
So – unity is a great thing that should bring the highest and lowest and everybody in between together. Now- let’s read Psalm 134 and discuss worship.
In my youth, I went to a Presbyterian church that was wonderful, and fairly formal in its worship. As I recall, lifting up one’s hands in worship was considered a charismatic thing to do, rather than something most Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists did. Is this fair, or accurate? It certainly does not seem to be. This Psalm exhorts us to worship God with raised hands:
Lift up your hands in the holy place
and bless the Lord! Psalm 134:2
And that is not merely an Old Testament practice, either, as Paul writes a similar command in the context of prayer in 1 Timothy:
8 Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument. 1 Timothy 2:8
So, should we raise our hands in worship? I believe the answer is yes – the Bible calls us to this posture multiple times, but it is also right to kneel in worship and lie flat in worship and dance in worship and shout in worship. All of those are demonstrative, I realize, and may even seem charismatic, but first and foremost, raising your hands in worship and dancing in worship and even shouting in worship are all biblical. I like how Pastor Sam Storms answers the question of why he personally raises his hands in worship:
On more than one occasion I’ve been asked: “Sam, why do you lift your hands when you worship?” My answer is two-fold.
First, I raise my hands when I pray and praise because I have explicit biblical precedent for doing so. I don’t know if I’ve found all biblical instances of it, but consider this smattering of texts.
“So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:4).
“Every day I call upon you, O LORD; I spread out my hands to you” (Psalm 88:9).
“I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:48).
“Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!” (Psalm 134:2).
“I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land” (Psalm 143:6).
“And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God” (Ezra 9:5).
“And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6).
“Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven” (Lamentations 3:41).
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8)….Does it not seem wholly appropriate, therefore, to raise them to God when we seek him in prayer or celebrate him with praise? So again, why do I worship with hands raised?
Because like one who surrenders to a higher authority, I yield to God’s will and ways and submit to his guidance and power and purpose in my life. It is my way of saying, “God, I am yours to do with as you please.”
Because like one who expresses utter vulnerability, I say to the Lord: “I have nothing to hide. I come to you open handed, concealing nothing. My life is yours to search and sanctify. I’m holding nothing back. My heart, soul, spirit, body and will are an open book to you.”
Because like one who needs help, I confess my utter dependence on God for everything. I cry out: “O God, I entrust my life to you. If you don’t take hold and uplift me, I will surely sink into the abyss of sin and death. I rely on your strength alone. Preserve me. Sustain me. Deliver me.”
Because like one who happily and expectantly receives a gift from another, I declare to the Lord: “Father, I gratefully embrace all you want to give. I’m a spiritual beggar. I have nothing to offer other than my need of all that you are for me in Jesus. So glorify yourself by satisfying me wholly with you alone.”
Because like one who aspires to direct attention away from self to the Savior, I say: “O God, yours is the glory; yours is the power; yours is the majesty alone!”
Because as the beloved of God, I say tenderly and intimately to the Lover of my soul: “Abba, hold me. Protect me. Reveal your heart to me. I am yours! You are mine! Draw near and enable me to know and feel the affection in your heart for this one sinful soul.”
Sam Storms, Biblical Studies: 1 Corinthians 12–14 (Edmond, OK: Sam Storms, 2016).
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The Bible 2021 Podcast Is a ministry of Valley Baptist Church A Baptist Church in Salinas, California.
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